A Sneak Peek of the Brewery

In case you missed it: We signed our lease! Here’s a peek into our property at:

7301 Calhoun Place, Suite 600, Derwood, MD 20855

7301 Calhoun Pl - Interior - Towards Arrowhead
TRBC Brewery and Tap Room Interior – Before
7301 Calhoun Pl - Exterior - Front Facade
TRBC Brewery and Tap Room Exterior – Before

Finding a property to call our own was one of our largest and toughest tasks. Our list of requirements for the space was not short:

  • Located in Montgomery County, MD
  • 7,000 – 10,000 sqft
  • 16’+ clear ceiling heights
  • Properly zoned for manufacturing and retail uses
  • Affordable
  • Sufficient parking
  • Landlord is ok with a brewery

Still, this didn’t originally seem like it would be too tough of a task. Unfortunately, the word “brewery” almost seemed to be a curse word among landlords. We quickly learned that the complete lack of breweries in the county meant that the familiarity with the concept of what a brewery even is was low and therefore the level of discomfort with  breweries among landlords was extremely high. (We also found ourselves running into the same landlords over and over again across properties. That made things really complicated.)

Parking was repeatedly an issue as well. Often, if the issue wasn’t the brewery use itself, landlords felt that demand would be too great so we would likely overwhelm their available parking. It was almost as if our business was deemed either too weird or too destined for success–never in between. It started to feel like we couldn’t win.

Early on, we were even negotiating with one landlord that required a kitchen. For a while, we considered partnering with a chef. In the end, we just couldn’t get comfortable with opening a restaurant and the landlord of this space in particular would accept no other option. (In fact, Q by Peter Chang just had its soft opening in the space this past week. We’re very happy the landlord got the restaurant they wanted!)

Despite some highs and lows along the way, true success eventually struck for us at long last. Our real estate agent got wind of a space that met our requirements but which wasn’t in a traditional warehouse district. In fact, it had apparently almost become a Ninja Warrior gym before the deal fell through. We jumped at this opportunity and toured the building at Calhoun Place as quickly as we could. Negotiations started shortly thereafter.

We’ve fallen in love with the beautiful surround of windows and the interesting shape of the space. Bailey, in particular, absolutely adores the plethora of natural light and has advocated strongly for this space straight from the first day we saw it.

Now, it’s time for us to transform this neat looking space into a fully functional brewery and tap room. Our sleeves are rolled up and we’re ready to dive in head first!

 

Cheers,

The True Respite Team

The Origin Story

True Respite Brewing Company is the culmination of an ever-growing love for the craft beer moment

Our story started when Co-Founder Brendan O’Leary set his phone’s alarm for 5 minutes before midnight: January 18th, 2008. That 5-minute window gave him just enough time to wake up, wander through his empty house down to the fridge, grab a cold brew of choice, and head back to his dimly lit room. Then, right at the crack of twelve, he took a hearty gulp and welcomed himself to the ripe age of 21.

Although the rest of the house was dark and still, that moment still burns brightly in his mind. His discovery of craft beer while off starting an internship 516 miles from his friends back at Georgia Tech quickly turned into a home brewing hobby meant to pass the time. That hobby turned into a passion; that passion turned into a dream. Today, that dream is becoming True Respite.


Although they’d been dating for nearly two years, it wasn’t until 2011 that Brendan finally convinced Co-Founder Bailey O’Leary to join a brew day. She immediately fell in love with the marriage of art and science found in home brewing. Even more so, she became inspired by the culture surrounding the craft beer movement. Her appetite for embracing new beers in new environments became insatiable as she soaked in every detail of each local brewery experience. For her, the wholeness of the social and cultural moment was every bit as crucial as the tasting of the beer itself.

Energized by the growing scene, Brendan and Bailey spent four of the next five years living in Denver, CO, soaking in the vibe of every local brewery and tap room they could find. Together, after drinking great beer and conversing with former strangers, they often discussed what made each visit special. These shared thoughts and experiences eventually snowballed into a vision for the “perfect” craft beer experience.


Now, True Respite Brewing Company is the culmination of an ever-growing love for the craft beer moment. Creating these moments of true respite, where great beer and a relaxed environment turn strangers into friends, is our primary mission.

In the end, we just want to see you all happy.


 

We Did It.

For three years we battled. We battled naysayers. We battled inertia. We battled the slow onset of doubt that followed rejections from thirty different lending institutions. (This is the actual number. It is not an exaggeration.) But today… today, we don’t need to worry about a single one of those battles anymore. Those ones are behind us. For a moment, we’ve ascended to our own nirvana. You might even say we are experiencing something extremely valuable: True Respite. Why?

All of our loans have been approved.

We weren’t expecting the phone call on Wednesday when, while on a cycling trip through a very sticky 90+ degree heat, Brendan’s phone started ringing from an awkward back zipper pocket in his cycling shirt. After a precarious bit of fumbling and while coasting to a slow halt, he answered to a cheerful voice on the other end offering congratulations. Bailey, unaware, pulled up beside him and waited patiently to restart the journey.

The conversation didn’t last long. When it was finished, Brendan turned to Bailey and simply said, “That was Craig. We did it.” That’s when the rush hit.

 

Funding Moment
Us just moments after learning that our final loan had been approved

We leaped and cheered and hugged and high-fived and shouted without reserve. A couple of friendly guys who were stopped in their car at the intersection beside us laughed and danced a bit along with us, not knowing what incredible news we were celebrating.

 

Funding Moment Scene
The unfittingly plain scene surrounding our moment of great joy

The weight that was finally lifted off of our shoulders was immeasurable. That’s when we knew it was really happening. Like–really happening. We celebrated with a family trip to the local fro-yo spot and let our minds race to fill insanely long lists of things that must be done. It was all so incredible and terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.

This morning we had a conference call with all of our lenders to choreograph the oncoming blitz of loan closings. Timing has proven to be a critical factor and that’s especially going to be so when considering the delivery of our equipment. Therefore, it was decided that we had to get it on order as quickly as possible to cut the lead time as short as possible and to fully inject all of our required equity to satisfy the lender requirements.

As of today, our brewing equipment is officially on order.

mug of beer
A similar size and comparable model to the brewhouse that will grace the True Respite brewery

We’re absolutely giddy with excitement! The next major step is to sign our lease. We expect that to occur mid-to-late next week. Monday we have our final walk-through scheduled with the landlord and we will likely need to make a few minor tweaks to the formal lease document before finally being able to sign it. At that point, we’ll make a major announcement and let everyone know the address where we’ll be opening.

From here, it’s a sprint. We’ve stacked our dominoes well and are now having a blast helping them tip one after the other. Just today, we received our Design & Development documents from our architect. We cannot wait to share more about the incredible brewery and tap room we’re bringing you. We’ve designed something completely unique that will immerse every one of you deeply into what True Respite really is.

Hang on to your hats, folks. This wild ride is just getting started.

 

Cheers!

Brendan & Bailey

Pouring Our First Festival

This past Saturday, for the first time ever, we poured our beer for the public at the King Farm Wine and Music Festival. It was a huge and exciting milestone for True Respite. Naturally, it was rainy and cold when we arrived but it still felt amazing to put up our brand new True Respite tent, pull out our kegs, and set up the jockey box. We cannot wait until this is a regular weekend occurrence for us!

Fortunately, the Maryland Comptroller’s office issued us a homebrew exhibition permit that allowed us to participate in the event without yet being a licensed brewery. We’d like to offer a huge THANK YOU to them for working with us on a short timeline!

We served three beers: Our Roasted English Stout, our Belgian Dubbel, and our Grisette-Au-Vin Blanc. Each beer offers something distinctly different.

Our Beers

The Roasted English Stout is jet black in color and very malt forward with hints of nuts, dark roasted coffee, caramel, and chocolate. We were shocked by how many “stout people” we met, especially at a wine festival! Those who self-identified as “stout people” absolutely gushed over this beer. It was quite humbling–though we definitely agreed.

The Belgian Dubbel is complex, malty, and presents a full-on estery Trappist ale flavor profile. It’s a deep reddish-copper color with a thick, long-lasting head and a moderate-to-high alcohol content. This seemed to be our “Goldilocks” beer that hit the sweet spot for most beer drinkers. It was appreciated by dark and light beer lovers alike.

The Grisette-Au-Vin Blanc is light and refreshing. It was born as a marriage between a sessionable saison and a white wine. The result was fabulously crisp and drinkable, drawing many oohs and ahhs from people who claimed they’re not usually “beer people.” We think this beer really got its moment in the sun due to the fact that the festival was both a beer and wine festival.

We are very proud to say that each beer was very well received. It was an incredible feeling to have our customers repeatedly ask to buy growlers or where to find our beer in stores. Unfortunately, we had to let everyone know that we can’t sell our beer yet. Still, it was nice to be able to refer them to Facebook and our other social media outlets so that when the day comes, they’ll know! (“And here–take a sticker!”)

It was extremely special to us that our daughter, Aislinn, was there with us to help serve the public for the first time. We got some great pictures with her and we’ll make sure to tell her all about it when she’s old enough to understand and appreciate it. We missed our son, Aidan, dearly but knew that if our two year old was with us we’d be chasing him around all day and would not be able to give our full attention to our guests.

Good Crowd

Overall, it was such an honor to get to participate in this event. We had so much fun! We LOVED being able to share our story with so many wonderful members of the community. We also loved learning more about our customers and getting excited together for the arrival of True Respite in Rockville. It was a nice bonus that many guests noted we’ll be walking distance from their homes and jobs. In fact, Google Maps told us the festival grounds were just a 29 minute walk from our future brewery location.

We want to take this moment to say thank you to everyone who stopped by. The Rockville community is incredible. Everyone was so welcoming and you all deserve the very best brewery in the DC metro area. We can’t wait to bring it to you!

Cheers

Cheers!

The True Respite Team

The Final Countdown

Three years of effort comes down to this one day…

(Hit play on this YouTube video for effect before continuing.)

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017.

Three years of dogged battling to get this brewery properly planned and fully funded will have brought us to this one day.

This Wednesday, one critical finance partner will send our loan package to their loan committee to decide whether or not to finance our project. We have several finance partners involved with this project and each requires the other’s commitment. That means one piece falling through will cause this entire deal to collapse.

We’ve slogged tirelessly forward for three years, enduring massive life-changing course adjustments–like getting laid off from a lucrative career and resolving to sell our home to move East and follow our dream; like unexpectedly welcoming two new, incredible, beautiful children into our lives; and like losing a couple family members to injuries and illness when we just weren’t ready to say goodbye.

We’ve suffered devastating setbacks–like being denied business loans over two dozen times for not having enough collateral or personal wealth before we were finally approved by a community development lender that saw real potential in our business. Even after we got our preliminary approval, we lost the real estate we had included in the loan package over a questionable parking dispute. That alone set us back four months.

But despite the heartbreak (and to be quite frank… often in spite of it) we’ve also celebrated huge wins. That local community development lender, Business Finance Group, saw the potential in us and worked patiently with us for months as we built a creative deal that will work. We’ve also managed to bring together a group of investors whose expertise has proven invaluable in navigating the challenges of starting up a small business.

We can tell you right now–we are not sleeping well… and it’s not the 2-month old baby screaming for food and cuddles in the dead of night that’s costing us the most sleep. The anticipation of this decision is weighing heavily on us as we try to act calm and carry on for the next three days.

To be clear: If this decision is a no. We’re hanging up our brewer’s paddles and conceding defeat. We can only take so many body blows.

But if this decision is a yes, the fight for funding takes a massive leap towards the finish line. The SBA is still mulling over our application for a working capital loan and we’re in the process of onboarding a conventional partner to join the capital equipment financing side. But these pieces can’t fall into place without this huge decision coming on Wednesday, and a yes vote will only help to strengthen our position in these approvals as we finalize our financing and move towards construction.

So here we are: The Final Countdown. The loan applications are out and our brewery’s fate has been passed into the hands of the lenders who are considering joining this crazy, beautiful ride.

Check back later this week to see what will become of True Respite Brewing Company.

 

Cheers,

Brendan & Bailey